Specifying Different Products Differently

What, you say? Of course, different products are specified differently! Concrete block, doors, and air handlers are simply not the same. Why would the specs ever be the same?

But the discussion at the October CSI Specifying Practice Group was deeper than just physical differences of every imaginable product. Construction materials, products, assemblies, systems can be grouped into five different categories, at least that is what Louis Medcalf and I professed. We were inspired by a concept introduced by Thomas Smith, RA, CSI, CCS, SCIP in an article for the Memphis Chapter CSI newsletter a decade ago. The discussion focused on how to apply the Part 2 Products article titles contained in CSI's 2008 edition of SectionFormat to each product category.

The product categories listed below were argued to have distinct product characteristics that require specific article titles to specify them correctly.

  1. Materials: Basic building blocks and commodity products
  2. Manufactured products: Shop assembled standard or custom products
  3. Shop assemblies: Contractor or manufacturer designed custom assembly
  4. Field assemblies: A/E designed with assembly and interfaces defined
  5. Design-build systems: Contractor designed complete systems

Materials and manufactured products would rarely, if ever, require information about fabrication or shop assembly. Shop assemblies would always require detailed information about the shop assembly or fabrication. The details for each category are shown in the presentation below.

The group debated the category for some specific products, metal decking for instance. Is decking a material or a manufactured product? Louis argued that even though there is manufacturing required to turn a roll of sheet metal into metal decking that decking is still a basic material used to create other assemblies. While group members argued metal decking was a manufactured product. Was there consensus? Absolutely...NOT. Agreement on the detail is not particularly important if there is agreement for the concept.

So what do you think? View the presentation below. Just click the forward arrow to start. Then share your opinion by leaving a comment at the end of this post.

The presentation key for the Part 2 article titles is:

  • Gray text - Probably not used
  • Red text - Most important to include
  • Black text - Probably included

Join the Specifying Practice Group to hear the discussion first hand and to share your experience with the entire group. Everyone who must read or write specifications is welcome. Formal attire is not required. Meetings are scheduled the first Thursday of every month at 3:00 - 4:00 PM eastern time.

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